Witches looking to double up

STOKE Potters' number one Paul Pickering and Rye House star Davey Watt are being linked with the Ipswich Witches.The Suffolk side are looking to strengthen their doubling-up position after accepting that Australian youngster Trevor Harding is not the answer if Danny Bird is missing.

STOKE Potters' number one Paul Pickering and Rye House star Davey Watt are being linked with the Ipswich Witches.

The Suffolk side are looking to strengthen their doubling-up position after accepting that Australian youngster Trevor Harding is not the answer if Danny Bird is missing.

Harding, who had a promising 2003, has had a difficult time of it this year. In seven appearances for the Witches he has scored just eight points.

Ironically Harding has appeared in two of the Witches' four away victories so far, at Wolverhampton and Arena Essex earlier in the season. Overall, it has been a struggle for the amiable teenager.


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And that is why the Ipswich management are now stepping up their search for a replacement for Harding, with Pickering and Watt top of their wish list.

Andre Compton is another in the frame, although the fact he rides for another Thursday night club, Sheffield, works against him.

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Pickering, 38, is having a terrific season for the Potters. He is flying high at the top of their score charts with a 9.60 average and is vastly experienced.

Sources in the Potteries confirmed last night Ipswich have spoken to the Hartlepool-born rider, who would be offered around six meetings for the Witches, who await his reply.

Team manager Mike Smillie said: "We are always looking at avenues to strengthen the team.

"We know we are weaker when we don't have Danny Bird and if we were to get in the play-offs, we could find ourselves with Monday night meetings which could clash with Danny's club Reading.

"Certainly and contrary to what some fans think, we are not just sitting about accepting the situation with our doubling-up position. The club is actively pursing making a change, but riders have schedules and plenty of meetings and are not just going to say yes to us on the spot."

Davey Watt has been released by Poole and has Elite League experience. He is currently sidelined with a foot injury however.

Bird is set to miss at least four more Witches Elite League clashes and with the current form of the side not at its best, it is a situation they could do without.

Smillie added: "Generally many riders do go through a slump midway through the season as tiredness kicks in from travelling to Sweden, Denmark and Grand Prix and I think we are suffering a bit from that with Hans Andersen and Jesper B Jensen.

"But at the end of the day we have three GP riders in our side and they should be good for 28-29 points each meeting for us."

Ipswich's next meeting is on Thursday at Foxhall Heath against Poole, the league leaders. The Witches have won just one of their last seven league clashes and are bottom of the form table.

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